Busch’s Dominant Run Earns First Win And Engine Award
A reliable engine and steady hands on the wheel propelled Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge to Victory Lane for the first time this year and earned the Penske Engines team their third MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award Sunday at the Toyota SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
Starting the race in 11th, it took Busch just 13 laps to take his first lead. The finish secured the ninth top-10 finish of the season for the Penske Racing driver.
“It's a combination of having the right strategy, of course, and having that forward drive coming off the corner,” said Busch. “I think usually, though, my thought process is to protect the race car, not get into those big fender rubs or into the side of other people's doors and have that damage. Ultimately you have to protect the race car and have that speed, then of course the right strategy. My crew gave me that today.”
The Penske Engines crew captured their third MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award in the last four races based on points awarded for qualifying, laps led and finishing position.
The award is part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
“For the race weekend at Infineon Raceway, our approach at Penske Engines was focused on two specific areas – reliability and fuel efficiency,” said Scott Corriher, president of Penske Engines. “Road-course events put more demands on the reliability of the engines mainly due to all of the down-shifting. Fuel efficiency is critical to allow for flexibility in executing race strategy, which focuses on track position. At all races, track position is important, but is even more critical at the road course events. We are certainly proud of the performance and the win by Kurt Busch and the Penske Racing Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team at Sonoma and Penske Engines is honored to once again be recognized by NASCAR for the MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award.”
Another notable contingency award winner from Sonoma included the No. 20 team from Joe Gibbs Racing which captured the Coors Light Pole, DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race (Greg Zipadelli) and Goodyear Gatorback Belts Fastest Lap of the Race awards.
The win puts Busch in fourth place in the standings heading into Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Clint Bowyer
COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: Joey Logano (93.256 mph. 76.821 secs.)
DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Greg Zipadelli (crew chief for Joey Logano)
GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Joey Logano (90.6491 mph, Lap 2)
MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Penske Engines, No. 22
MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Clint Bowyer
MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Bob Osborne (crew chief for Carl Edwards, 0.062 secs)
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Carl Edwards (20 places)
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Andy Lally